Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir PutinReuters

Meeting with the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, in Moscow on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a number of statements possible to interpret as a softening of his position and providing hope that war with Ukraine can be averted.

The meeting followed an announcement by Russia that some of the soldiers on the Ukrainian border had been recalled to their bases.

Scholz arrived in Moscow after visiting Kyiv on Monday, Deutsche Welle reports, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

“The most important thing is that we manage relations between countries through good discussions with each other,” Scholz said during his meeting with the Russian leader, adding that he was glad the two leaders were able to meet in person.

In his opening remarks, Putin focused on the two countries’ economic ties, but also mentioned “heated discussions” on the topic of Ukraine. “Unfortunately, we will be devoting a significant portion of our time to issues related to the situation in Europe and to security,” Putin said.

He added that, “Countries have the right to join military alliances as our colleagues in NATO always maintain, but it is also important to maintain one's security without this coming at the cost of the security of other countries.”

Scholz expressed his “hope that in the near future we will find a solution for the current blockage with further high-ranking discussions – we need an open dialogue,” he stressed.

He noted that Russia’s decision to mass troops on the Ukrainian border “can be seen as a threat” adding that, “we are now hearing that more troops are being withdrawn, and that is a positive signal. We hope more will follow.”

In somewhat stronger terms, the German chancellor emphasized that, “The inviolability of borders, applied to Ukraine, is not to be negotiated … It is vital to go down the road of diplomacy so as to avert war in Europe.”

In remarks to reporters following the meeting, Scholz said that, “For Europeans, it is clear that lasting security cannot be achieved against Russia but only with Russia.”

For his part, Putin told the press that, “We do not want war in Europe,” adding that it was “our absolute duty as heads of government to see that Europe does not see a re-escalation into war.”